I see a cat seeing what I can’t see.
― Eleanor Farjeon
I was still feeling wary the evening after my first session with Martin Wallace. I didn't want a repeat of the night terrors.
I deliberately avoided wine with dinner and resolved to stay clear of hard liquor regardless of any anxiety or stress.
Booze really didn't help much anyway, just made me feel mellow at first and then lethargic afterwards and I certainly didn't want to be anaesthetized if the night terrors began again.
Just after eight, the phone rang and I tensed immediately, wondering if it were Trish from the agency.
Thankfully, the caller ID showed it was Gladys Hall, one of my neighbours who occupied the apartment on the floor below me. I breathed a sigh of relief and picked up.
"Ethan, I have to ask you a favour. Mrs. Knight who occupied the main floor unit passed away and I've been minding her kitten while she was in hospital. Would you mind pet sitting for a day or two? I have to attend jury duty.
"Sure, Gladys. Why don't you bring bring him up now and introduce us?"
"Oh, reallY? Thanks Ethan, I appreciate it. You're a real sweetheart, you know."
"Famous for it," I chuckled.
I didn't mind cat sitting and figured it might help relax me. At any rate, It would be a welcome diversion from the stress I was under.
Gladys showed up ten minutes later with a Tabby kitten, a litter pan and cat food. "Everything you need is in the shopping bag and I'm sure you'll find Gizmo adorable."
"Gizmo?" I laughed, "that's a cute name."
"Oh, he's a real character for such a little guy. He's very affectionate too. I wish I could keep him but I'm allergic, so I'll have to find him a permanent home."
After Gladys left, I set up the litter box in the spare bedroom and let him nose around and get used to the layout. His food and water bowls I put in the kitchen and his cat bed near the fireplace where I figured he'd feel comfortable.
But right away, he climbed me like a tree and was rubbing his face against my cheek. It seems he was making his own choices about where he wanted to be.
Sure enough, as I sat back down with a tea in front of the fire, he ended up on my lap snuggling with me.
He filled a need I didn't know and seemed to readily take to me..
It was peaceful in the apartment and before I knew it, I drifted off to sleep but was roused some time later when I felt the kitten’s flaws scrabbling up my chest.
He seemed frightened and wanted to snuggle closer to my face.
I drowsily petted him, stroking his soft fur, but he began mewing, staring back at the darkened bedrooms.
I awoke instantly. I had deliberately left lights on at the back of the condo so Gizmo could easily find the litter box. I hadn’t shut them off.
I felt the hair on my arms stand on end and an icy tingling start down my spine.
What the hell was going on?
I hadn’t felt this type of fear since I was a child. I got up and went to the kitchen and quietly took a butcher knife from the wooden block and warily crept back to investigate.
Moving stealthily, I searched each room thoroughly, looking in closets and under beds, but found nothing.
I did notice the flat switch in the spare bedroom seemed to stick when I turned it off and on, so it was possible the switch might not have been fully engaged and slipped back to the off position.
But that didn’t explain how the light in the master bedroom came to be out as well.
It seemed the onset of these spooky occurrences could all be traced back to the trouble at the agency.
Maybe I was just being hyper vigilant after being the victim of a smear campaign, but I couldn’t shake the feeling someone was watching me.
Every little noise in the condo seemed amplified and the stress was beginning to affect my mind. I was at at my wit’s end and knew I couldn’t put up with these fears too much longer.